12th Nov 2019

Blair EU candidacy on menu of Merkel-Sarkozy dinner

A working dinner in Paris between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday (28 October) night is likely to include the issue of the next EU president, with the British government still pressing for Tony Blair.

Just hours after her formal re-appointment as chancellor by the German parliament, Ms Merkel is due to dine in the Elysee palace in Paris, with speculations running wild on whom she will back as the EU's future president once the Lisbon Treaty comes into force.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Angela Merkel has so far kept silent on Mr Blair's EU bid (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

So far, she has kept silent over British ex-prime minister Tony Blair's EU bid. "Ms Merkel will not reveal her cards until the very last moment. She always does it like that," an EU diplomat told this website.

Unlike her, Mr Sarkozy initially signalled support for Mr Blair, only to discover some "problems" later, over Britain's non-membership in the eurozone. On Monday, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner again expressed support for Mr Blair, saying "as your humble servant, I am backing Tony Blair." But the French fluctuations are likely to end once Mr Sarkozy will know what Ms Merkel wants.

Some smaller member states – notably the Benelux countries and Austria – are wary of a Franco-German-British deal on the head of the EU and are backing the Luxembourg Prime Minister and the chairman of the eurozone group, Jean-Claude Juncker, instead.

From across the Channel, Gordon Brown still hopes he can convince the French and German leaders to agree to Mr Blair. His foreign secretary David Miliband actively campaigned for Mr Blair during the foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. According to official sources quoted by The Telegraph, London believes Ms Merkel will back the former UK leader if she gets to choose EU's next top diplomat, who will get extra powers once the Lisbon Treaty comes into force.

"We believe the French and Germans are holding out for the best possible deal they can get out of this situation. But we think Ms Merkel will agree if she gets [to choose who takes] the foreign job and Sarkozy will also be after a significant position," the unnamed British official said.

France is said to be eyeing the internal market portfolio for its former commissioner, Michel Barnier.

Officially, the issue of the EU president and the top foreign policy job will not be on the agenda of the European Council starting Thursday afternoon, as the Czech president will only be able to sign the Lisbon Treaty after a verdict of the Constitutional Court on 3 November. But some back-door diplomacy and horse-trading are still likely to take place.

Far-right Vox celebrates, as Spain left without majority

Although the governing Socialists Party (PSOE) won the most seats at Sunday's elections, the political deadlock continues with a deeply-fragmented scenario, in which the far-right Vox party is in a strong position while the centre has become irrelevant.

Can Sunday's election end Spain's endless deadlock?

Uncertainty surrounding this weekend's Spanish election - the fourth in four years - is rising, as polls suggest that the outcome of Sunday's vote could be as inconclusive April's election. Thousands of police are on the streets of Barcelona.

New Romanian commissioner completes line-up, bar UK

Ursula von der Leyen has chosen Alina Valean to be Romania's new commissioner. She will get the transport portfolio, putting an end to speculation that Hungary might lose the enlargement portfolio.

Belgium's political deadlock is complete

After 163 days the Belgian government formation is not going anywhere. The King needs to be more creative than ever in trying to find a way out.

News in Brief

  1. Three new commissioner-designates pass legal scrutiny
  2. ECJ: EU countries must label Israeli settlement products
  3. Belgian asylum centre set on fire
  4. Xi Jingping in Athens promises new investment
  5. Farage's Brexit Party will not stand in Tory-held seats
  6. British founder of Syrian 'White Helmets' found dead
  7. Eight member states ask for EU aviation tax
  8. EU allocates €55m humanitarian aid to Sudan

Wilmès becomes first female PM of Belgium

On Sunday, Sophie Wilmès was appointed as the new prime minister of Belgium - becoming the first female head of government in the country's history. She replaces Charles Michel who becomes president of the European Council.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. Pro-Israeli group scores own goal on EU retail labels
  2. New commissioners clear 'conflict of interests' hurdle
  3. Israeli labelling ruling lets consumers make choice
  4. What does Macron really want on Western Balkans?
  5. Far-right Vox celebrates, as Spain left without majority
  6. EU 'climate bank' won't rule out carbon capture
  7. New hearings for the von der Leyen commission This WEEK
  8. Bosnia wants explanation for Macron's 'time-bomb' remark

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us